6 Replies Latest reply: Jul 25, 2006 12:12 AM by mhunter
Giles Level 4 (1,745 points)
A friend is thinking of upgrading to Tiger - has 512MB currently IIRC. Is this enough on a G4? When I've used Tiger on a Mac mini with 512MB it was basically unusable because it kept running out of RAM and swapping the whole time even when just using Mail and Word. Would this be as bad on the G4?


iMac DV 450MHz, 640MB, 20GB HD, Airport Xtreme, Mac OS X (10.3)
  • mrtotes Level 6 (11,825 points)
    I dropped down from 1.5Gb to 512Mb at the end of last year when I had to return some defective RAM and I have to say I noticed a real difference especially in iLife apps which seemed distinctly sluggish during that period. I found I put my iLife projects on hold and stuck to Office tasks and Internet during that time but I did find it very usable in that respect with only 512Mb. If you plan to use iLife apps often then more than she'll need to upgrade.


    Remember that OS X uses free space on the hard drive as a swap drive/virtual memory so ensure that plenty of space is free to help the OS manage it's memory properly.



  • Giles Level 4 (1,745 points)
    OK the problem with the mac minis may have been the Intel processors and non-native code then.

    Will consider RAM upgrade as well though.

  • Eric Kracinski Level 6 (15,925 points)
    It really depends on what apps you are running. The bare minimum would be 512MB for decent performance. If you are going to use the iLife suite a lot and do both photo and video projects, then I would suggest 1GB.
  • mhunter Level 6 (9,185 points)

    512 MB of RAM on an Intel Mac will not go as far as it will on a PowerPC Mac.

    Generally, many people are finding that they run out of memory faster on the Intel Macs due to Rosetta requiring more memory.

    If you run any PowerPC programs, then Rosetta will automatically run and will use more memory. Rosetta translates PowerPC code into code that will run on an Intel processor. Basically stores the translated code in memory while the program is open, and will cause you to run out of RAM faster due to the increased memory requirements.

    Also, the Intel Mac Mini will pull about 80 MB of RAM right off the top for your video system (64 MB of RAM + 16 MB for overhead). So, you actually start with around 432 MB of RAM on an Intel Mac Mini. And, in some situations more memory may be pulled for the video system.

    So, that may factor into your experience.

    PowerPC Macs do not share their system memory with the video system. So, you don't lose any memory for video RAM on an PowerPC Mac.

    Likewise, PowerPC systems do not have Rosetta, and do not need it since they can run PowerPC programs without conversion. And, they can also run the newer Universal Programs as well.

    So, in many situations 512 MB on a PowerPC will be more than adequate.

    I've used our Mac Mini G4 with 256 MB of RAM, and it was more than enough for the more modest needs (e-mail, word processing, web browsing, etc.). My wife had no complaints about it at all.

    I upgraded it to 512 MB of RAM, and that was adequate for most iLife tasks (iPhoto, iMovie, etc.).

    But, I did eventually upgrade it to 1 GB of RAM for better performance with iLife.

    So, I wouldn't have any reservations about running a PowerPC system with only 512 MB of RAM. If you intend to do a lot of Video Editing and such, then I would recommend at least 1 GB. But, for basic needs 512 MB is enough.

    For an Intel system though, I would consider 1 GB to be required if you will be running multiple programs and any of them is a PowerPC program. But, you could still get by with 512 MB.

    I hope this helps.
  • Giles Level 4 (1,745 points)
    Thanks for the replies
  • mhunter Level 6 (9,185 points)
    Glad to help

    Let us know if you have other questions.